« Units and Unities | Main | Notes on The Thin Red Line »

January 31, 2012



Beautifully put my friend. I think many of us will identify with these downsides but find it harder to part with our dependency. Personally, I feel a need to be part of it but think I'll take a new identity.


Two comments.

1. I wonder if you are giving up the wrong piece of technology? After all, you did mention that your interaction with facebook changed somewhat once you got an iPhone. A number of my friends have suddenly gone from marginal and infrequent users of facebook to high frequency users with the purchase of an iPhone (or smartphone.) As as a non-smart phone user, I hve to say that it's harder to become that caught up in the facebook flow if the device that one uses to connect to it isn't portable. The result is that facebook retains some value as a means to keep in contact with friends and certain organisations.

2. Its probably too late --at least in some circles and professions-- to opt out of facebook. Its quite likely that the critical mass has been reached necessary to change our society and the way we contact, and stay in contact, with each other. I now email certain people only through facebook, which is a stable addresss, rather than through their multiple, constantly changing institutional email addresses. My sports club is looking at using facebook as its main communication for training schedules (coupled with twitter feeds). Friends who aren't on facebook slip through the cracks of event invitations, and announcements.

You will find, if you really do leave facebook, that one day you will find out way too late that someone got married. Or had a baby. Or died. For just like the conversations in bus stops and tea rooms, while much of facebooks activity is purely trivial gossip, some of it will be important.

But surely the most compelling vision of the possibilities of social media is the Arab spring. By giving up facebook, don't we risk be asked: "Why weren't you in Tahrir Square?"

Norman Costa

Like. I ate some nachos, today.


These are all thoughts I share. Having attempted deactivation more than once for these reasons, let me say that the problem lies not with the active use of FB, but the amount of crap that one becomes accustomed to viewing as potentially interesting newsstuff. It is possible to keep all the best parts of FB, and block the rest, by deleting certain friends, unsubscribing from groups, adjusting the newsfeed and privacy settings etc. That said, it is incredibly satisfying to spend a week or two living entirely without FB - and probably even more so to log back in and discover how many people really wanted you in their digital social life.


To read NY Times articles you just have to delete the string of numbers following the = sign in the URL.

Matthew Gamble

As a dedicated Twitter user, I feel the need to respond to your comments about the quality of English used on the platform. If the people you follow are substituting "u r" for "you are", you're following the wrong people. No one I follow does that. It has also been said that you cannot properly express ideas in 140 characters. I partially disagree with that, but at the same time, most people generally link to a blog post of some form if they want to properly express ideas, instead of trying to fit them into one, two or even five or six tweets.


Maybe in between Sodom and Gomorrah and The Prisoner, take a break and check out the book Feed by M.T. Anderson. It's a short young adult novel written in 2001 or so, but it does a very nice job predicting where FB-culture is heading, or at least taking it all to an absurd level. Many of the things he predicted for the "Feed" were prescient - the constant updates whizzing by, ever-increasing mix of personalized ads.


Justin, you're a smart guy, so you don't need me to tell you this, but you don't have to accept anyone as a friend, and you can turn off notifications of or unfriend those littering the conversation. Keeping it down to 10 or 20 colleagues and family members or even those five or six people who surround us and amuse us and render us content makes for a reasonable diversion a few times a week.

Can we have another installment on the life of Jason Boone (still some of your best writing)? A major letdown to learn he was fictional, but I think I've gotten over it.


Highly recommended:
A la recherche du temps perdu : L'Intégrale (111 CD) [Coffret, Livre audio] [CD]
ISBN: 978-2878625219

Philip Thrift

I'm on the Google Plus Diet: I haven't been on Facebook or Twitter since February 1.

The Necromancer

Damn, definitely food for thought here. Facebook is a crucial contributor to the banality of contemporary culture, popular or otherwise. I guess in a world where the internet is competing for what is left of our attention, trimming a bit of the fat can't hurt. I certainly get your sense of alienation from the "dorm culture" Facebook embodies, even though I'm currently soaked in that world teaching at Michigan State. Still, it will always remain something of a foreign land, much like Facebook. Maybe the explorer in me remains drawn to that...

alan funkle

I quit facebook after having an argument with someone i considered a good friend about the ending of a war movie, I'm a pacifist when it comes to reality, he at first claimed to be a war apologetist wich i could at least understand. the argument got scary and weird when he went out in left field saying "i love war, war is great" then told me
my pacicists views were retarded and i was causing
trouble in the forum we both helped start although he was the moderator simply because he didnt agree with my views and acted like an immature brat.

social networking is not the best for social developement as it generaly creates a sense of apathy as the web in general does and news media
of helplessness of not being able to do anything
but watch or receive negative critisism.

facebook creates a fast food mentality of easy come easy go friends with a flick of the like or friend button and people forget people are behind profiles. So far out of 60 "friends" not a single one has gone out of their way to use google to find me on google+,etc. giving me the feeling that people largely use people
on fb/social sites to waste time and nothing more. facebook is also terrible for meeting people localy. I'll pick my friends more carefully and choose a bar, club
for picking up friends rather than the interweb.

you end up living your life as a text insert rather than living a real life. everyday goes by that im glad of my decision to stay off fb. and stay away from toxic people that inanely post and argue on it.


I quit Facebook at the end of 2011 and have not looked back, I am in college and while many of my friends have an account, there are also plenty that do not and I have not found it has any impact on my life whatsoever. I am still invited to friends birthdays and keep in the loop. I am a Computer science major, but social networking has never sat comfortably with me. I feel free without it and have alot of free time to spend on my hobbies. No-one needs it, the sooner people realise that the better off society will be.


i recently quit facebook and what made up my mind is seeing a sponsored ad on facebook about something i wrote in a private messages to someone else and that made me real furious.. i'll miss few people that i've met and got to know especially the american ones but i had to quit it for good


My (obvious) observation consists that the site is not a "culture generator" but a "media" for it's users culture, basically the culture we have available today (I risk to say that are people with a good social and cultural level all around the world - even if it's not your standard it's the reality, even in the "developed" countries) Maybe someday it achieve to be this platform, or a new social media site will take its place to do so. But to me clearly it's a culture crisis symptom of our times. Second, if the english is not good, i can write in portuguese very well.


The generation of art, culture, music videos, cat videos, scientific or pseudo-scientific information, images, all that in stratospheric levels. Who can say what is relevant or not? However, the author of this excellent text is reading À la recherche du temps perdu. Well, I can say is that we are still à la recherche du temps perdu. Today we have 50 shiny new authors per semester in the publishing market. But we still want to read Proust. Use your analytical and projection skills and you will figure that it is one more unsustainable model.

Jon Lambert

I have battled with how much FB eats away at our time and most importantly quality social interaction... real face-to-face interaction. As someone who studied broadcasting because I love to put my artistic works "out there", it bothers me that you can spend hours or days creating something, and then it's just passed right down the wall for a few quick likes or comments. Truthfully, I could write a book on FB disdain. In any case, I quit a couple months last year and have just deactivated my account again a few days ago. The term I've coined for the whole FB experience is "The Cheapening" ... it cheapens our relationships, ruins attention spans, keeps people from meaningful activities, etc., etc.

get facebook fans

ept 15-16 at Brandywine Creek State park in Wilmington Delaware were mostly taken by me, by Talya Leodari, by Conrad Quinn aka Matthias Ogden,or by other Facebook friends who made them publically

Hack Facebook

A style began to emerge over the coming months, one that was hardly original, but,

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)